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Caryn James

Review: Oprah’s Doc Club Begins with Transgender Chaz Bono Film

  • By Caryn James
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  • May 11, 2011 6:58 AM
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  • 3 Comments
Becoming Chaz, which follows Chastity Bono though hormone therapy and the surgical removal of her breasts until she physically and legally becomes a man named Chaz, is a remarkably intimate, unsentimental view of that transition.
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TV Review: What "Bhutto" Reveals About Pakistan Today

  • By Caryn James
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  • May 10, 2011 5:00 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Bhutto, a documentary about the life and assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the daughter of privilege and violence twice elected Pakistan’s prime minister and twice forced out of office on corruption charges, is in many ways frustratingly out of touch with today’s news. Even though Bhutto’s life was full of political ambition, democratic idealism and high drama, the film - shown at Sundance in 2010 and tonight on PBS’s Independent Lens series - can’t directly address the post-Bin Laden conversation about the U.S.’s fraught relations with Pakistan.
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Keeping Up With The Borgias

  • By Caryn James
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  • May 8, 2011 2:30 AM
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  • 0 Comments
“The wolves are bearing down on the papal states.” There are few people other than Jeremy Irons who could make that line sound so deliciously sinister yet plausible as Rodrigo Borgia, aka Pope Alexander VI, explains the family’s political danger to his middle son, the hot-headed soldier Juan. If you haven’t kept up with The Borgias, Neil Jordan’s sweeping, visually sumptuous series about the 15th century family of sexy, manipulative powermongerers, you’re missing a very smart guilty pleasure.
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Review: South Park's Season Premiere Makes You Gag

  • By Caryn James
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  • April 28, 2011 3:53 AM
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  • 0 Comments
What’s the delicate way to say this? Those South Park guys have a taste for poo, so if you’ve been put off by their recurring character of Mr. Hankey – the walking, talking turd in a Santa cap – your gag reflex would really have been set off by last night’s season premiere.
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TV Review: One Person’s Verite Was Another’s Cinema

  • By Caryn James
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  • April 20, 2011 1:00 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Typical biopics, even good ones, end by flashing images of the real people who have been turned into fiction on screen; Cinema Verite dares to reverse that ploy. From the start and scattered throughout we glimpse Bill and Pat Loud and their five children as they appeared on An American Family, the jaw-dropping documentary that created reality TV.
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Review: Brash New Twists in "House" As Thirteen Is Sprung From Prison

  • By Caryn James
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  • April 11, 2011 1:00 AM
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  • 0 Comments
At the start of tonight’s bold new episode of House, we learn that Thirteen, who mysteriously fled last year, has been in prison. (No real life surprise: Olivia Wilde was off filming Tron). As she walks through the prison gates, she is astonished to find House waiting with a martini -- what more can a girl ask for? And as if the writers were energized by being free of the interminable Cuddy-House on-and-off romance, the episode zooms in a fresh direction.
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TV Review: "Game of Thrones" Has A Heart of Geek

  • By Caryn James
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  • April 8, 2011 1:00 AM
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  • 113 Comments
“I am a khaleesi of the Dothraki!” If that sentence makes you say “Huh?” or “I don’t care,” I am here to tell you that you can live the rest of your life quite happily without ever watching Game of Thrones, HBO’s superhyped, superexpensive new fantasy miniseries.
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Less Froth, More Nazis: A Darker “Upstairs Downstairs”

  • By Caryn James
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  • April 7, 2011 3:58 AM
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  • 1 Comment
The new Upstairs Downstairs is as visually glittering as you might want. The camera swirls around a crystal chandelier in the opening credits; the stylish young owners of 165 Eaton Place have painted the walls in the entry hall a beautiful peacock blue. And glamor? Wallis Simpson drops by a cocktail party, Cecil Beaton comes to photograph the family, and the soon-to-be King George VI stops by to chat, without the hint of a stutter. But there is also a Nazi who crashes the party, a Fascist chauffeur, and a Jewish maid who has escaped from Germany.
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Why "The Good Wife" is Smart Where Other Shows Are Stupid

  • By Caryn James
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  • April 6, 2011 3:14 AM
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  • 1 Comment
From the start, The Good Wife has been one of the sharpest series on television, as it reveals heroine Alicia Florrick’s (Julianna Margulies) tangle of personal and political drama – does she forgive the politician husband who publicly humiliated her by going to prostitutes? – with her own legal career and attraction to her boss and old lover, Will (Josh Charles, in the photo above).
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Review: "The Kennedys" Is Off-the-Charts Bad, But Not Because of Its History

  • By Caryn James
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  • April 1, 2011 1:00 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Poor Greg Kinnear. Poor Tom Wilkinson. I came away from the ham-fisted miniseries The Kennedys feeling bad for those actors, because they are quite good as JFK and his father, Joe. (You’ll notice I didn’t add “Poor Katie Holmes” as Jackie.) Kinnear and Wilkinson don’t have two worthwhile lines or scenes in the entire series, though. The Kennedys is clumsy in its writing, dull in its direction, not even interesting enough to be a hoot.
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